I did not set out to visit Segovia, Spain. But I am so glad I did.
It’s one of two very popular day trip options from Madrid, the other being Toledo. Unfortunately they’re in opposite directions so you can’t visit both on the same day. And I only have time for one day trip.
Both Toledo and Segovia are about an hour outside of Madrid, easily accessible by train and bus, and cost roughly the same amount to get to. Both are UNESCO World Heritage Sites and feature charming scenery. You really can’t go wrong, and I wish I had one extra day to spare so I could visit both places. From the time I started planning this trip I expected to visit Toledo, but some last-minute research leads me to several blog posts comparing the two cities (namely this one from GQTrippin) which sways me towards Segovia. I make the decision at breakfast, probably 15 minutes before setting out for the day. Toledo is definitely on my radar whenever I next return to Spain.
Two things convince me to switch to Segovia at the last minute. First, I know the dramatic Roman aqueducts in Segovia will make for great photos. Second, there is a stunning castle in Segovia that inspired the one in Disney’s Snow White. That sounds promising.
After looking at both the bus and train timetables for that particular day, I pick the bus. Here’s how I get to Segovia: I take the metro from my hostel area to the Moncloa station. Once there I find the bus terminal area. I take the escalator down one floor and look for the bus line called La Sepulvedana. Buses for Segovia leave once an hour and it’s currently 11:05am… I have just missed one, but luckily there is a Dunkin Donuts nearby to provide caffeine, sweets, and free wifi while I wait for the 12noon bus. (FYI, these times vary daily.)
At the ticket counter for La Sepulvedana, I buy a round-trip ticket (roughly 15 euros) which specifies my departure time but NOT my return bus back to Madrid — the return trip is open-ended. When I’m ready to go back to Madrid later that day, I’ll go to the bus station window in Segovia to pick my return time. NOTE: In retrospect, I should have just booked a specific return time when I bought the round-trip ticket, or upon arrival in Segovia BEFORE exploring the city. Instead, when I show up at the bus station window in Segovia around 5:15p anticipating catching the 5:30p bus, it’s full and I have to wait an extra hour for the 6:30p bus. It all works out in the end but I could have saved myself an hour by booking my specific return bus in advance, or at least when I first arrive in Segovia. The more you know!
I get out at the bus station and walk about 10 minutes to the aqueducts. Since one of the blog posts I read that morning mentions there isn’t much signage at the bus station, I plotted the aqueducts location into GoogleMaps when I had free wifi at Dunkin Donuts, and even in Airplane Mode I can follow the route. Once in the aqueducts area, I pop into the tourism office to pick up an official map and ask for advice on the best walking route for Segovia. In total I spend roughly five hours in this city, including a stop for lunch.
See? I told you these aqueducts would be dramatic:
I’m still dazzled by these historic squares surrounded by bustling cafes. Everywhere I encounter them in Spain, it feels like something out of a movie.
I climb the stairs on the far left side of the aqueduct for more photo ops.
From there I walk onward to the main square of Segovia (Plaza Mayor). It’s even grander than the square I passed 20 minutes earlier by the aqueducts.
A closer look at the Segovia Cathedral (I don’t go inside but many people do):
And more photos around Plaza Mayor:
Next I keep walking towards the Alcazar, which is the name for that Snow White-inspired castle I mentioned earlier. These narrow streets are quite photogenic.
Since this post is already on the long side, I’m going to save photos of the Alcazar for its own post. Here is a sneak preview:
Back to the streets of Segovia near Plaza Mayor…
The famous dish of Segovia is cochinillo asado, known in English as suckling pig. Count me out! After being slightly traumatized by roasting a pig over the spitfire in Malawi, I want no part of this. But I see it advertised everywhere, and if crispy pork is your thing, you’ll want to check out Yelp or TripAdvisor reviews for the best places to get this dish in Segovia.
Instead, I find a pizza place for lunch. And a 2 euro glass of red wine? Don’t mind if I do!
While I can’t get on board with the suckling pig, I am very eager to try local sweets. (Let’s forget that I pre-gamed this day trip with Dunkin Donuts…)
This is called Ponche Segoviano, a custard cake covered in marzipan. (It’s just okay in my book.)
From there I head back to the aqueduct area for some last-minute photos. I have a general idea of the direction and don’t consult the map at this point, content to wander down various streets looking for fun photo angles.
All day long I notice artists painting around the city… this will all make sense when I get back to the aqueducts later.
I pass by Casa de los Picos — it’s got funky triangular spikes all over the exterior. Makes for fun photos.
Love this view:
Almost back to the aqueduct area…
Turns out there is an artists’ show scheduled for this very afternoon — now it clicks why I’ve seen painters all over the city today. They come together in front of the aqueducts to show off their work. I’m not sure if it’s a contest, or if people can purchase their work on the spot, or both. But it’s fun to walk around and see the various impressions of Segovia.
Back next week with highlights from the Alcazar castle — as beautiful as the photos are in this post, the castle is my favorite part of Segovia!